The Metaverse Moment for Communications Practitioners
By Nirav Suchak
The metaverse represents an incredible market opportunity across a wide range of sectors that businesses simply cannot ignore. Morgan Stanley imagines the potential total addressable market to be around $8.3 trillion, and this is in the U.S. alone. Just as the digital/web and the internet era grew, the worlds of communications practitioners evolved significantly, opening up a plethora of opportunities, growth, challenges and complexities. We are now poised take the next step in our society’s virtual evolution as the metaverse starts to shape, influence and redesign businesses across every industry and how they engage their key stakeholders.
Become an informed metaverse communicator
- While a few businesses and brands are capitalizing on the metaverse opportunity, it is still very much a question mark for most. Educating clients and business leaders about the what/who/why/how of the metaverse and how it is poised to be a cross-industry development will likely fall on communications experts as they are expected to (and rightly so) be the eyes and ears of an organization/client.
- The opportunity to become well-informed about metaverse is also increasingly important as it grows and intersects with the rise of Web 3.0. Both metaverse and Web 3.0 could have a significant impact on business (including those involved directly or indirectly with the technologies that will make it happen), consumers, and our society at large.
- Sooner or later, CEOs and business leaders will want to start talking about the metaverse in an informed and intelligent way — as stakeholder appetite on the subject is poised to only grow over time. As communications experts are expected to shape an executive’s voice on key trends, issues and developments, it will be critical to help leaders have educated perspectives and a well-articulated narrative about the metaverse.
Where does your business fall into the metaverse equation? And how can you talk about it?
- The metaverse isn’t just about the businesses that are creating its technology. Over time, most (if not all) businesses will find themselves talking about how the metaverse is shaping their specific space. For example:
- Technology communications practitioners need to understand the relationship between the products and technologies they represent – and the technologies that are making the metaverse happen.
- Communicators within the financial services space have already been dealing with the evolution of digital commerce and payments solutions, including bitcoin, cryptocurrencies and NFTs – the growth of the metaverse is only going to expand the opportunity for them to discuss how these new models of financial transactions are going to take hold.
- Consumer brands have taken to the metaverse – from Disney and Nike to Gucci and Wendy’s! Practitioners who represent consumer-facing businesses will soon need to understand how brands in their space are interacting, embracing and utilizing the metaverse to create better brand-consumer connections.
- Business leaders, media, investors and other key audiences are already discussing the metaverse widely. Irrespective of whether your client/business is actively vested in the metaverse, it will continue to consume the media’s attention. Communications and PR practitioners need to better understand how they can position and message around this burgeoning opportunity, navigate the delicate positions of their clients/businesses in this new metareality, and be on the lookout for sensitivities or the roadblocks around the metaverse.
Metaverse will change how we use social media
- Communications experts have long been guiding their businesses, leaders and clients around social media strategy, marketing and challenges. The metaverse has the opportunity to completely reshape social media conventions – by breaking the barriers between various social media networking platforms.
- In the metaverse, consumers can interact with each other as avatars, share live entertainment and virtual events together, take online gaming experiences to the next level, or just simply co-exist within virtual universes. This changes the way we look at and advise our clients and businesses on the rules of social media. The opportunity for social media engagement has been split wide open with the metaverse, so it will be important for communications experts to update their toolkits for best practices and creative strategies around social and digital media engagement.
- The metaverse could also lower digital and informational barriers for key audiences, like employees, investors and shareholders. For far too long, such audiences have relied on telephonic, video and digital communication from businesses, to better understand their strategies, products, growth opportunities and business challenges. The metaverse could allow business leaders to tap into the metaverse and digital twinning technologies, to replicate a business meeting within the metaverse, or offer more immersive downloads on their products/technologies/business processes to analysts, investors and media, creating a whole new opportunity for financial, internal and corporate communicators.
A multiverse of issues
- Tackling crises and having a pulse on the issues at the horizon is an obvious skill that communicators are expected to have. But the metaverse is poised to exacerbate the many issues businesses have to think of, whether or not they embrace or question the metaverse.
- From a complex regulatory landscape and concerns of safety in the metaverse to cybersecurity risks and the uncertain impact of the metaverse on individual businesses, public affairs and communications leaders will need to prepare to better understand the myriad business, regulatory, policy and consumer challenges that the metaverse is going to bring to the table.
- For communicators who represent businesses that have a vested interest and/or stake in the metaverse, the runway to understand the challenges ahead will be short, so there will be a need to create and practice special issues and crisis scenarios that may come around sooner or later.
The central point here is that communications professionals will need to get smarter about the metaverse and all it entails, while challenging their internal and conventional wisdoms about effective communications practices. As key audiences evolve in parallel (with the rising prominence of Gen Zs), communicators need to be ready — the metaverse has the potential to truly reimagine how we can effectively advance, support and succeed with our business/client objectives.
Is your company ready to engage in the metaverse conversation? Get in touch.